A B2B marketing plan template is only useful if you have a clear idea of your vision for the business and the value you get out of it.
This is the Vision Value Model. First, you determine your vision for the future of your business. Maybe this is you exiting the business in 5 years by selling to your family or an employee. Maybe this is staying with the business for another 10 years and growing it to a particular size.
Once you have the vision in place, you think about the value of the business to you. Is it purely financial? Or do you get value from the impact you have on your community, or even just the ability to provide employees with work and good lives?
Whatever the case, your B2B marketing plan needs to start with your vision and your value. This template will help you figure out what your marketing needs to do to help you achieve your vision while maintaining or growing what gives you value from your business.
Every business has to implement a well-thought-out, specific, data-driven, masterfully employed, and meticulously checked, rechecked, and adjusted marketing strategy.
This is how you break through your growth plateau and start competing with the leaders in the industry.
Before we jump into the B2B marketing plan template, let’s cover some of the basics.
B2B Marketing — Emotion Plays Less of a Role (or does it?)
The big difference that many people think exists between B2B marketing and B2C marketing is this: in B2B marketing, you’re marketing to a business, and so your marketing needs to be targeting, basically, a robot.
The truth is, every business is run by people, and even massive multinationals with layers of decision-makers who supposedly keep emotion out of their decisions do anything but.
Even CFOs and CEOs are emotional creatures, and they can be reached using many of the same marketing tactics that work so well on consumers.
Even high-powered C-suite veterans are only partially influenced by data, smart rhetoric, clever arguments, and demonstrations of quality, price, and high-end customer service.
Time is limited, and if your numbers and offering are right, the only thing that’s going to stand between you and that big win always dreamed of is a few competitors and the emotionally driven gut decisions of people with fancy letters after their name.
If you can choose marketing tactics that appeal to the emotions of these people, you’ll likely be more effective than the stiff, stilted, overly professional competition.
So, as you consider your markets, your audience, the segments of your market that you want to target most, remember that they are, at their very core, human beings.
You can appeal to them the same way you can appeal to the average consumer.
And the average consumer, the average human, is influenced more powerfully by their emotions than their logic.
They go with their gut more often than not.
This is true across the board, it’s just that, in B2B marketing, you need to have your ducks in a row before you start employing marketing tactics that have an emotional basis.
You Can’t Rely on a Marketing Plan Template Only — It Needs to Evolve
There is no one right way to write a marketing plan, and plans have a nasty tendency to fall apart when they meet reality.
However, if your plan is fluid and flexible, if you continually revisit, revise, and edit your plan to take into account how the tactics are working in practice — basically, if your marketing plan is a living document — it’s going to be effective.
That fluidity is critical — you don’t want a static plan that looks forward an entire year without wiggle room.
Plans that might be effective in the first quarter can fall apart when the business environment changes, so you need a plan that’s going to flow with the dynamic environment of business.
And the only way it can do that is if you’re referring back to it constantly and making changes when necessary.
We recommend you check your filled-out B2B marketing plan template at least every month — make adjustments as you go, check when you can, look at the data, and go with your gut.
Metrics don’t do you much good if you don’t apply changes when you have new information, so don’t ignore what you learn.
How to Use the B2B Marketing Plan Template Most Effectively
A marketing plan is only as good as the planning that goes into it.
Just choosing a handful of marketing tactics out of a hat and saying, “Yeah, that seems good,” is a good way to waste a bunch of money.
A good marketing plan requires the following:
- SMART goals that align with your vision for the business
- Target audience(s) and a clear understanding of the target market/segments
- Defined brand(s), product(s), and service(s).
To use your B2B marketing plan template most effectively, you need to set goals, flesh out your brand, define your audience for each marketing strategy, and thoroughly define your products and services.
All of that has to be worked out before you even begin to think about dropping some cash and putting marketing tactics into motion.
Your brand, your products, and your services are both informed by (and themselves inform) your target markets and the segments you choose to target.
As your target audience shifts, grows, ages, and changes, so too will your brand.
Your goals will fluctuate from quarter to quarter, year to year, and decade to decade.
All of these things inform your marketing strategies.
You might have dozens of strategies all centered around different products, services, markets, and business ventures, all of which are going to change and fluctuate over time.
Even your vision and your value might change over time. You might change from wanting to stay for the next 10 years to wanting to exit in 5. You might find that the value you get from the business is not just in the money like it once was — it’s in your people.
As your vision and values shift, your marketing plan as to shift as well.
Marketing Tactics VS Marketing Strategy
Strategy is your plan to achieve a specific business goal — your tactics are how you actually make that happen.
This requires that you have clear business goals worked out from the outset — your vision. Your goals should be SMART:
- Agreed Upon
Here’s a simple example of a SMART goal:
Our goal is to grow our business by 7% in the next year by increasing conversions by 15%, leads from our website by 50%, leads from our outdoor advertising campaigns by 12%, and by increasing the value of the average sale by 10%.
This goal is very specific, it’s measurable, it’s time-bound, and, for this particular business, it’s both agreed upon and reasonable.
Once you have a goal, it’s time to create your marketing plan: that’s your strategy — the overarching plan to turn your goal into reality.
Tactics are the specific marketing methods you use within that strategy to reach your goals.
I’ll give you an example based on the SMART goal listed above:
We will employ a combination of pay-per-click and social media advertising to increase our website leads.
We will increase our outdoor advertising by 30% in our major markets and begin outdoor advertising campaigns in two new markets to generate more leads in those areas.
We will also offer a series of promotions on our core products to increase conversions, and we will increase commissions on upsells and cross-sells to encourage higher-value sales.
This is a marketing strategy, based on a goal (vision), that incorporates specific marketing tactics that should achieve the goal.
Once you have your goals in mind and your strategy in place, you need to think about each tactic.
Consider the following:
- The reason for choosing the tactic — why choose this tactic over another? How will it help me achieve my goal(s)?
- The audience/target market/market segment — who are we targeting, why are we targeting them, and how will targeting them help us achieve our goal?
- Time frame — is this tactic going to be effective in the time frame it needs to be effective in? Is short-term what we need, or is long-term better?
- Frequency — how often are we going to employ this specific tactic? How many times will we try it before we retire it?
- Cost — how much is this actually going to cost us? Are we going to get a measurable, reasonable return on our investment? At what point does it become too expensive to continue?
Let’s dive into each of these.
What’s My Reason For Choosing This Marketing Tactic?
You may have multiple reasons for including a tactic in your marketing strategy. As you work your way through your B2B marketing plan template, list them all.
Part of choosing a tactic is knowing why you are spending money on something, even if that reason is, “Because someone who knows what they’re talking about told me to do it.”
However, you still want to try to find better reasons that relate to the goals you are trying to achieve.
Some reasons for choosing one tactic over another might be to
- Establish your brand as a thought leader
- Create brand awareness
- Generate new leads
- Nurture leads through the sales funnel
- Increase conversions
- Increase average sales value
- Support your sales force
- Improve/change brand image
- Acquire customers
- Retain customers
- Upsell/cross-sell existing customers
If you’re spending money on something, you need to know why you’re spending that money and what you hope to achieve as a result.
Does This Tactic Fit My Audience?
Any tactic you use must be a good fit with your ideal customers.
If the market won’t support the tactic, if the environment is wrong, if the segment doesn’t respond (or worse, responds negatively), the tactic is wrong.
You wouldn’t plan to attend a tradeshow where none of your potential customers (or other parts of your supply chain) will be in attendance.
You wouldn’t spend time on a social network that your target customers are unlikely to use.
If you’ve built your customer personas, then this shouldn’t be a problem — you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what will work on each audience (and what won’t).
You also need to figure out if you have multiple audiences.
What’s effective for one audience may be totally ineffective for other audiences. If that’s the case, then you need to come up with multiple personas to make sure that you target each customer segment effectively.
What’s the Timeframe for This Tactic?
You need to figure out exactly when you’re going to use each tactic.
For instance, you may want to wait until the fall to start your email drip campaign, leading up to an industry event in the spring.
Some tactics may only have a start date and aim to continue for the foreseeable future.
With What Frequency Will I Employ This Tactic?
You also need to consider how frequently you’re going to employ each of your tactics.
How often will you deploy pay-per-click ads on social media? Will you run them constantly for 6 months or only a few times a month?
Are you going to continue to spend money on radio and TV ads every week, or is it time to only do a few a year?
Will you put out blog posts monthly? Bimonthly? Weekly?
How many tradeshows will you attend this year?
Find a frequency that’s reasonable (and doable) for each tactic.
How Much Will This Marketing Tactic Cost Me?
Using the B2B marketing plan template to plan it all out and develop an extremely detailed, specific strategy will force you to look at the costs as a whole.
You won’t get far with your marketing plan if your budget doesn’t make sense, so go ahead and factor in those monetary costs now.
This will also make it easier to determine if you’re getting a positive return on your investment when you check your progress later.
Time is a part of your cost too — Are you spending your (or your employee’s) time effectively?
Is it worth it to keep paying someone to spend hours blogging when their time might be better spent writing marketing emails for you?
Just looking at how much time you and your employees are spending on various tasks can show you where you can make changes.
What Are My Expectations And Goals?
You can’t launch into a new marketing tactic without having some sort of expectation of outcomes, so spend some time thinking about your goals, but also spend time thinking, realistically, about potential outcomes.
Try to set attainable yet aggressive goals for your marketing, evaluate your progress, and be realistic about how it’s working out.
At least once a month, you should be analyzing your progress in each area of your marketing plan and adjusting the plan and tactics (and goals!) accordingly.
Some Marketing Tactics to Use When Filling out Our B2B Marketing Plan Template
Although there are quite a few tactics out there, here are a few that you might consider:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
- PPC (Pay-Per-Click Advertising)
- Social Media Marketing
- Industry-Specific Social Media Sites
- Content Marketing
- Video Tutorials
- Email Marketing
- Warm and Cold Emails
- Email Drips
- Direct Mail
- Affiliate Marketing
- Tradeshow Marketing
- Radio/TV Advertising
- Outdoor Marketing
- Point-of-Sale Marketing
- Press Releases
- Promotional Items
- SMS Marketing and Proximity Marketing
- Remarketing/Programmatic Marketing
- Telemarketing/Cold Calling
- Guerilla Marketing and Viral Campaigns
Remember, the important thing is to meet your audience where they already are and to properly represent your brand in every tactic you plan.
Choose your goals and make sure they’re part of your vision, develop a strategy, add in tactics, and put it to work.
And if all of this is completely overwhelming?
Call in the pros.
Do You Have a Marketing Funnel? Well Then Ya Better Get One
Use the B2B marketing plan template to get started on your marketing plan.
If you’re ready to get serious about creating a marketing funnel that will grow your business, let’s talk.
We’ll create a marketing funnel that pulls together various marketing methods to streamline lead generation and get you more sales.